Thursday, 24 August 2017

Ganpuru: Gunman's Proof (SNES)

Ganpuru Gunman's Proof title screen logo
Developer:Lenar|Release Date:1997|Systems:SNES

This week on Super Adventures I'm playing a game definitely absolutely did not ever get ported to the Commodore Amiga, for a change. In fact this one wasn't even released in English, though it did eventually get a fan translation.

I like fan translations, I think they're a fantastic idea and that everyone who's put their time and effort into making games accessible to more people for absolute zero financial reward is awesome. But I don't play fan translations on my site (it's one of the rules written in the box on the right), so I'm going to be struggling through the original Japanese version of the game for an hour or two. Well, unless it's got a lot of dialogue in it, then I'll be struggling a lot longer than that.

The katakana in the title says Ganpuru, so some people call it Gunple and others say it's probably a compound word formed from 'gunman' and 'proof' (like how Pokémon comes from the words 'pocket' and 'monsters'). Man, if the very first word in the game's giving me this much trouble then that's not a good sign. Google Translate tells me that my two choices beneath it are “From the beginning” and “From the rest”, so at least I don't have an options screen to interpret.



Though before I make my choice I first get to watch a (skippable) pre-title screen intro which shows meteors falling to the Earth. Either that or we're witnessing some stray shots from a shoot 'em up game finally reaching the end of their long journey.

I spent a while drawing each of the symbols into Google Translate one at a time to get to the truth of the matter and learned that what's happening here is that meteors.... are falling to Earth. Though now I also know that this scene's taking place sometime in the year 1880, five years before Back to the Future 3.

This cowboy seems shocked by the sound of meteor impacts, more shocked than his horses anyway, but he can’t be bothered to go and investigate. Probably for the best really, as there's likely going to be giant mutated ants over there, or Martian war machines or something.

Alright Google Translate, what's going on now?

隕石は、アメリカ西部の「ストレンジ島」に命中!
“The meteor strikes the “Strange Island” in the western part of America!”

これが大さわぎになるかと思いきや...
“I wonder if this will make a big scoop…”

この時代の人たちは,自分のささやかな生活を守るのにせいいっばい
“People in this age should keep their own modest living.”

だれも気にするものもないまま、このことは忘れ
"Without anyone to worry about, forget about this."

So basically people were surprised by the meteor impacts but couldn't be bothered to investigate . Okay cool. Man I'm getting tired of drawing all these symbols now. It doesn't help that some of them are complicated low-res kanji which often take a few attempts before they're recognised.

Ganpuru Gunman's Proof name entry screen
Crap, how do I spell ‘Ray’? I actually had all these katakana and hiragana symbols memorised once, but they all crept out of my brain first chance they had.

Oh no, now there's even more intro and it's unskippable this time! I love those super-slick dancing flowers on the right though, even if one's missing a head.

I could carry on putting all of the text flying by into Google Translate but I’m not sure I even want to know what’s going on here. There’s a cowboy kissing a cactus while a guy in blackface and no pants cheers them on. Then they all run off and leave behind a strange golden metal emblem thing for the sheriff to find.

It's... a flying crab wearing one of those medieval helmets with the nose guard and a crown on top.

I expect that the writing underneath probably explains what it is and why they threw it there but if I keep putting all of this text through the translator one symbol at a time I'll take me a week just to get past the intro.


TIME PASSES


Damn man, how is this intro still going? Long unskippable intros are tedious enough when I can understand a word that's being said. Well okay I can understand 'UFO', but other than that I'm lost here.

When I chose to play this for the site I figured I could handle it, as I did fairly well for a few hours in Final Fantasy III on the NES, but I really underestimated just how many words this game has to throw at me.

All I know is that this kid had a chat with his mother, then walked off and nearly got flattened by another meteor... which turned out to be a tiny flying saucer! He chats with the crew for a bit, one of the tiny floating aliens turns into a glowing ball and jumps into his head, and then some townsfolk come by to take him back to safety.

Well I can't go back to the UFO, but I can do some eight directional crawling! I'm not sure I've ever been able to crawl in a game like this and definitely never in so many directions. Maybe I'll eventually figure out why it's an option for me here, but right now my priority is to get far away from these humans and their words, and find myself some gameplay.

No gameplay on this floor. I did manage to collect a head injury though.

This girl's got a very Zelda look to her bedroom, with multiple perspectives fighting it out. The lamp, bed and table all have straight sides, the windows on the sides match the leaning walls, and the windows on the bottom are just doing their own thing. It's a real mess.

Lots of places to visit and people to talk to here in this JRPG cowboy town. I'm still looking for a way out that doesn't have someone standing in front of it through.

Aha, I've found the beach and grabbed a crab! I have to be on the right track now, as gun and fist icons have appeared in the top right of the screen. Plus they've both got infinity symbols underneath. It's nice to know I have an unlimited hand; it'd suck if that ever ran out.

So I carried on along the beach for a little bit collecting crabs... and found that it was another dead end. Great.

I'm getting a bit stuck now, so I'm going to break out the Google Translate again on this expressive gun collector to see if he gives me any clues.

コロブッチ
"Korobuti"

いらっしゃいましー!!
"Welcome !!"

・・・と いいたいトコ口だけど・・・
"...I want to say good-bye but..."

じつは デシードに売り物を
"Well, you have to sell to Deseado"

せんぶ ぬすまれちゃったのだ!
"She was stolen!"

ドシ力ーン!!しくレく・・・
"Does power !!"

Well I'm already totally lost and there's no signs that this conversation's stopping any time soon. Okay new plan: how about I just go everywhere, talk to everyone, and skip through all the dialogue until something happens.

Well I can't go this way. I lost a hit point for wading into the slightly deeper water.


MORE TIME PASSES


I've found the kid's parents! I should've known to go straight for the house I saw in the intro cutscene. Unfortunately it turns out that the dad's got a temper and one hell of a punch (plus the mother's got a really off-putting habit of wriggling her hair).

I edited out the text here to make the animation small, but there is a lot of dialogue in the scene... and I'm going to cheat and check the English translation to see what's actually going on.

Okay the kid came in and told his dad that he was going to go off and fight the Demiseeds (the villains) single-handedly, and the dad tried to beat some sense into him to stop him from getting hurt. Then he lost his patience and kicked punched him out of the house, telling him not to come back until he'd defeated one of them. The kid's dad is a bit of a dick.

Oh also the kid was voluntarily possessed by a tiny floating alien space sheriff back at the UFO and he's currently using his body to stop the bad aliens from the intro. So I'm playing as the alien, playing as the kid.

After getting punched by the kid's dad and the girl (it has to be both of them for some reason) I was finally allowed out of the town, where I found the UFO again and got my first dialogue choice! Look at all that kanji I need to write into the translator now.

Well as far as I can tell the kanji at the start of the first choice doesn't even exist in our universe, but the '情報' bit seems to mean 'information' and for the second choice 'だベる' means, uh, 'be bereaved'. I'll just take my info and leave then.

Oh balls, its those minstrel-looking bandits from the intro and they've seen me! Also the guy on the right's started slapping his bare ass to mock me for walking into one of his bullets, the git.

I just need to get a bit of distance and then I can turn around and test out my infinite gun button on them.

I don't know why a kid like me is even allowed to carry a gun, (especially seeing as it's a semi-automatic pistol and they're still a decade or so away from being invented) but it definitely gets the job done against these racist caricatures from outer space. It burns their flesh away entirely, leaving only a delicious health-restoring apple. Well, except for that last guy who dropped an explosion instead. At first I figured I might have destroyed the apple by accident, but nope I can't kill apples.

I can kill things diagonally though, which is nice. The game also lets me lock my direction and slide around by holding a shoulder button, but doing that would've made the GIF much bigger.

I got three bombs! I figured that they were bombs all by myself when I accidentally pressed the 'waste one of your bombs' button while trying to bring up an inventory screen.

This overworld in made from separate areas, I can only walk and scroll the screen so far until I hit an edge and move onto the next scrolling area, so I figured I'd see if moving between areas reset the item chests in the previous area. Turns out it doesn't, but when I doubled back I found all the enemies had respawned to take shots at me along the way. I guess I'll have to make do with these two bombs I have left then.

Whoa, there's an ancient ruin here right next to cowboy town! Well, I suppose it had to be next to something.

So now I'm shooting enemies in a Zelda-style dungeon. The game doesn't have twin-stick style controls so I have to be careful I don't run right into the enemies I'm shooting at, but being able to lock my direction and strafe helps. Plus it turns out that my crawl button lets me duck right under enemy bullets, though that's less helpful as when I'm concentrating on killing things it's easier to just step out of the way.

Well this guy's a cheeky bastard. It'd be nice if I was given a moment to react before blob bullets start flying in all directions. I even tried diving to the cold stone floor and crawling under them one time but it doesn't work against his shots!

Speaking of directions, I've got two exits here and I'm not sure which way to go. I guess I'll leave through the door at the top first and if it looks like it's headed somewhere I'll go back and check the stairs.

トレジャー発見!
"Treasure discovery!"
「ラピス・メダル」を
"Lapis medals"
てにいれた!
"I got it!"

Seems I made the right choice by heading for the door first. I guess I can equip this thing as a shield now.

Ganpuru Gunman's Proof inventory item screen
Nope, there's nothing on the inventory screen that wasn't already there before I stepped inside. I don't know what the red dot's about but I'm ignoring that for now.

Funny how 'SCORE' and 'LIFE' are both in English, but the menu labels aren't.

Crap, I should've realised that the boulder would start rolling at me when I got too close. Still I only lost half a hit point by being crushed by it.

Now I've got another branching corridor to deal with.

Ganpuru Gunman's Proof map screen
I'm definitely making some progress though, so most of my choices seem to have been the right ones. Also there's some more English for you on the right, just in case you were wondering what you were looking at here.

I've found a fang, a mirror and a ruby ring in treasure chests along the way but none of it's showing up in my inventory, so I don't know what's going on there. I'm used to finding useful things like keys and gadgets in Zelda dungeons, but aside from those bombs I picked up outside, I've got nothing I can do anything with so far.

Oops, didn't expect that to happen. I only lost half a hit-point though so it's not a huge disaster. I can get that back with an apple, if any of the enemies around here feel like playing ball when they die. A lot of them have been dropping coins and explosions instead lately.

Plus they've been taking more hits, which is annoying. Who wants to stand shooting the same enemy three or four times when there's other enemies that need killing? I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to keep tapping the fire button (holding the button powers up my super-shot, but I don't have the patience to wait for it to charge).

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
Here's what A Link to the Past looks like by the way, just to freshen your memory. The games are very similar looking, but they're not quite identical. It's hard to tell which of them came out six years after the other though.

Hey I've found the first boss! The game made me fight through a locked room full of enemies first, but with some quick thinking I sorted them out with my remaining bomb. So now I'm against this sinister luchador totem pole with no bombs left. Though I do have some... crumbs maybe? It's three yellow dots, I can't tell what that means.

だれサンスか、チミは!?
"Who is your opportunity, Chimi? What?"

ミーの名前は「ミラクル5」!
"Me's name is "Miracle 5"!"

Uh... I'm just going to go ahead and shoot him to get this over with.

Oh no, he split up into multiple pieces, I could not have seen such a thing coming! (I did). But then the multiple pieces caught me off-guard when they suddenly charged forward at me and they managed to knock off a hit-point.

We carried on doing this routine for a while, with him splitting up, sliding at me, reforming etc. until I'd succeeded in blowing up all of his segments aside from his head. But he'd managed to take off all my hit-points but one, so whoever makes the next mistake loses.

Oh. That was pretty simple. Would've been simpler if the gun had autofire though so I didn't have to tap the button like crazy.

To be honest even if I had lost all my hit-points it wouldn't have been the end of the world as I'm pretty sure I would've just lost a life and then kept fighting. Though if I'd lost all my lives I'd be kicked back to town again.


DUNGEON 1        CLEAR!!

I only got a rank D for my efforts though, which seems a bit harsh. Especially considering I got four items along the way, which are apparently melted down for points at the end of each dungeon. I'm not complaining though, as I got a 1up out of it (and an extra hit-point). Oh plus a crest that looks like a weird flying crab wearing a medieval crown-helmet and serves as my gunman's proof that I came down here and kicked ass.

So... do I get a free trip to the entrance or do I have to walk all the way back again myself?

Uh... I opened a chest and there was a horse inside. Is he here to take me back to the surface again, or is he just here to frighten and confuse me? All I know is that he must say something to piss our hero off as he gets a punch and then starts grovelling.

After the cutscene we skipped right out of the dungeon and back to the forest again. Then the horse said a few more lines and ran off to have his own adventures, so now I'm free to... go back to town and start talking to everyone until I'm allowed to leave through a different exit I guess.

I think I've done enough already though. I’ve slain a boss, punched a horse, earned an extra hit-point, and explored a whole quarter of the game map. Not bad for half an hour.


CONCLUSION

Ganpuru is super-straightforward cartoony comedy cowboy Zelda, that much I've figured out so far. I had to dodge a few wall traps, but other than that it's been all skipping through dialogue, choosing doors and shooting enemies so far, with no puzzles and no items. Though there are apparently upgrades and extra guns with limited ammo to make things more interesting later on.

The game looks decent, the gameplay's slick and the music's both catchy and bearable! So no complaints there. The biggest flaw I've found with it so far is that it was only ever released in Japan so it's not in English. Plus the game came out on the SNES in 1997! That's the same year as GoldenEye 007, Fallout, Curse of Monkey Island, PaRappa the Rapper, and Final Fantasy VII. It was a good time for fun 2D pixelly low-res action-adventure games on the Game Boy, (like Pokémon Red/Blue for instance) but not so much on consoles. Not that there's anything wrong with retro styled games.

It's a bit of a shame though that the dungeons give you a rank at the end based on your time and the items you've found along the way, but there's no way to replay them to get better scores without starting the whole game over again. I personally don't care much, but it seems like a feature someone would've gotten some use out of.

Also it might've been nice if it let have me the four face buttons for instant twin-stick style 8-directional shooting (it's not like I was getting a whole lot of use out of the punch or crawl buttons). Though it works alright as it is and I definitely didn't feel unfairly challenged by the controls. In fact I wasn't challenged much in general as this hasn't been the harshest of games so far. If you lose a life you reappear on the spot and if you lose all your lives you reappear at the town instead with a fresh set of 1ups. Plus you can save the game by going to bed, so you don't have to finish the whole thing in one sitting.

Overall I thought it was a cool little run and gun action-adventure and I'd recommend trying it for yourself if that appeals to you. Though if your English is stronger than your Japanese then you really want to go with the Aeon Genesis fan translation for this one. The dialogue is definitely part of the game's charm and you're going to be sitting through countless lines either way so you might as well understand it.



There you go, a red stone with a 'V' on it; see if you can guess the next game from that.

Thanks for reading by the way. The internet is filled with a million things to read by tens of thousands of talented authors, so the fact that you chose to spend time looking at my words means... well it means you probably wanted to know something about Ganpuru, but I appreciate it anyway. Leave a comment if you feel like it!

6 comments:

  1. I don't get it, are the racist caricatures Aliens? So why are they dressed like cowboys?

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    Replies
    1. Aside from the belt, boots, scarf and hat I'm not even sure they are dressed.

      Delete
  2. Aw, forget it, i stopped skimming trough your article, and i found that there are even alien sheriffs!.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Have you tried using the Google Translate app to translate Japanese directly with your phone's camera?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't try my phone because I assumed it'd take one glance at the pixelly kanji and throw up its hands in defeat. Though I just tried it now and it got a few of them! Not enough for complete sentences though.

      Delete
  4. There's something called KanjiTomo that does character recognition by mousing over the letters, might be useful on emulators. Tested it on the image with the choice and it even recognized the 1st Kanji, it's 敵 (enemy).

    ReplyDelete

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